We Surveyed 2,100 Mountain Bikers to Find the Best MTB Pedals

Pedals are one of the most personal component selections on any mountain bike. As one of three contact points, most riders are so addicted to one specific type–or even model–of pedal that most high-end mountain bike brands don’t even include pedals on the bikes that they sell. We surveyed 2,100 mountain bikers to see which pedals they think are best, and here’s what they chose.

While some riders may be diehard fans of one specific pedal, with ongoing advancements in pedal technology it is entirely possible that the model of pedal that you’ve been using for years–perhaps decades–is no longer the optimal pedal for you. This list showcases the various types of pedals currently available–maybe you should consider branching out and sampling something new?

9. Shimano M520

Shimano M520 pedal is a classic example of a standard clipless mountain bike pedal. The reliable performance and the incredibly affordable price– find a deal as low as $26–have allowed this pedal to remain a popular choice among mountain bikers for years. In fact, I personally have four pairs of these pedals mounted on various bicycles, including mountain, road, and fat bikes.

However, this is the only classic-style clipless pedal to make this list, indicating that the standard clipless pedal may be well past its prime in the mountain bike marketplace… and that I may need to update my fleet of pedals. Read on for the other pedal selections from the crowd.

8. Crank Brothers Mallet DH Race

Crank Brothers’ Mallet pedals are a perennial favorite, with the Mallet DH pedal nabbing the #8 spot on this list. This pedal is indicative of another trend we’ll see on the rest of this list: the combination of both a clipless cleat and a flat pedal platform, with 8 pins per side. But unlike the other clipless/flat combos on this list, the Mallet offers a full-size platform.

While this is the only Crank Brothers pedal to crack this list, if we categorize all of the votes from our survey by brand, Crank Brothers claims a #2 spot behind the ubiquitous Shimano. So why aren’t more Crank Bros pedals on this list?

Simply put, Crank Brothers sells many more versions in each pedal line than Shimano does. The Mallet pedal is available in 7 different configurations–the DH Race model is just one of the 7. The popular Candy pedal is currently offered in 5 models. The Eggbeater has 4 different models. And that doesn’t even consider the Double Shot, Stamp, and 5050 collections, all with their own variants. If we categorized all of the Candy models together, it would claim the #1 spot on this list.

However, as you scroll down, you’ll note that Shimano has three nearly-identical pedals on this list as well, so it’s difficult to decide exactly where the line should be drawn in terms of naming conventions. So while you won’t see the Candy on this list, consider it an honorable mention.

7. Shimano Saint MX80

Shimano’s dedicated DH flat pedal, the Saint MX80 provides a concave platform for optimal shoe grip, a chromoly spindle, and adjustable, replaceable pins.

6. DMR Vault

The DMR Vault pedal offers 105mm of platform area on a 6061 aluminum body. The spindle is made of Cro-Mo steel, and 11 adjustable pins allow the rider to fine tune the pedal’s grip.

5. Race Face Atlas

The Race Face Atlas pedals weigh substantially less than the other full-metal flat pedals on this list, making it a fan-favorite. Like the DMR Vault above, the body is made of 6061 aluminum and the spindle of Chromoly steel. The Atlas features 20 hex traction pins per pedal (10 per side).

4. Shimano M530

Why choose clipless or flats when you can have a little of both? While not the same amount of platform that the Crank Brothers Mallet provides, the M530 offers a standard SPD cleat pedal with a bit of platform to grab onto the outsole of the rider’s shoe.

3. Race Face Chester

While the $55 price tag could lead you to believe that flat pedals with a composite body are lower-end than their metal brethren, many riders think that a composite pedal body lasts longer through repeated rock strikes. And, as an added bonus, the plastic material is lighter than metal, making the Race Face Chester both the most affordable and the lightest pair of flat pedals on this list!

The Chester offers an expansive 110mm x 101mm platform with 8 pins per side.

2. Shimano XTR Trail

Shimano’s XTR Trail pedal offers a nearly-identical form factor to the SLX-level M530 above, just with higher-end technology and a 100g lower weight.

1. Shimano XT M785 Trail

If you’re feeling a sense of deja vu right now, I don’t blame you: the XT M785 pedal is nearly identical to the Shimano pedals in spots #2 and #4 on this list, but the XT wins out with its proven balance between an affordable price, high performance, and reasonable weight. While just 50g more than the XT pedal, it drops $60 off the retail price.  Note: the M785 have since been upgraded to the M8020 model.

An endless debate rages in the mountain bike world: “Which is better: clipless or flat pedals?” Our survey respondents have weighed in loud and clear with the selections on this list, answering: “Why not both?!” While one true clipless pedal made this list compared to four dedicated flat pedals, the clear winner in the market today is a combination of the best features of both types of pedals.

Your Turn: Did your favorite pedals not make this list? Tell us about them in the comments section below!

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